What about Black Mold or Stachybotrys?
Recently, there has been heightened concern regarding exposure to a specific type of mold commonly referred to as black or toxic mold. Currently there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking the inhalation of black mold spores or any type of mold in the indoor environment to any illness other than the previously described allergy symptoms. The term “toxic” is an inaccurate description of this mold. There are many common molds that are black in color.
If you see mold growing in your home, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. You do not have to leave your home or belongings behind or destroy everything in the house. Instead, seek the help of someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with mold. Contact your local public health agency or state health department for more information on mold.
Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.
Protecting Yourself During Mold Cleanup
Before starting your cleanup process, make sure you have the proper equipment and take precautions to protect yourself.
- Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold spores, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware stores and from companies that advertise on the Internet. Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front; others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores from entering. In order to be effective, the respirator or mask must fit properly, so carefully follow the instructions supplied with the respirator. Look for the label of N-95 and NIOSH to assure the respirator will provide the protection needed.
- Wear gloves. Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When working with water and a mild detergent, household rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a disinfectant, chlorine bleach or a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane or PVC.
- Wear goggles. Goggles that do not have ventilation holes are recommended to avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.
Who should do the cleanup?
This depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below.
- If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult with an InterNACHI inspector.
- If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
- Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold. This could spread mold throughout the building.
- If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
- If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
Tips and Techniques
The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered here. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces.
- Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair and restoration, painting and art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.
Why Shouldn’t You Get a Free Mold Inspection?
A free mold inspection is usually a bad idea. Here are some reasons why you should think twice about that free inspection:
If a company offers a free mold inspection, it’s unlikely that they are giving you the best. Often, things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true. Thorough mold inspections aren’t cheap. A company that offers high quality inspections needs costly equipment and skilled workers. For that reason, they can’t afford to offer free inspections.
When you receive a thorough inspection, you get more accuracy. You can learn exactly what types of mold are in your home. Furthermore, you can find out where your mold is coming from. When you do hire a mold testing specialist in Houston, you can get better results. Unfortunately, free inspections don’t involve precision. The specialist might tell you that you have mold, but they might offer no other specifics. It’s also likely that they have less training, which causes inaccurate results.
More Costly Than Paid Testing
Typically, a free mold inspection is more costly than a paid one. This is due to the inaccurate nature of free testing. If you have a mold problem that goes undetected, you could be in for thousands of dollars worth of damage. Mold spreads quickly. Failing to diagnose the problem early on means it will only get worse. As the problem progresses, the cost of repair only increases.
These days, most people are targets for scammers. Regardless of your age or situation, you could be a victim of a scam. Some companies offer free mold inspections and try to take advantage of you. For instance, some businesses shake out rugs and pillows to release more spores into the air. The result is higher mold concentrations throughout your home. Other companies use gimmicky equipment that don’t actually get the job done. This point comes back to the lack of regulation in the mold inspection industry. If a company wants to make money off of you, they could argue that you have more mold than you actually do. To remedy your “problem”, you could spend money in unnecessary mold remediation.
How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?
Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth (e.g., water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) to prevent mold growth.
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels;
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
How Mold Home Inspections Work
The first step in a mold inspection should be an IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) or MAS (Mold Air Sampling) test to determine what irritants or possible mold strains are present in the home.
As mentioned before, not all mold is toxic black mold, despite the color. A visual inspection alone will not indicate how dangerous a mold growth is. Only mold testing can accurately identify the specific strain of mold in your home.
During your inspection, we will also look for signs of mold, past mold growths that could become active again, or areas with signs of moisture that could lead to future mold problems.
Next, any samples collected during the mold testing and home inspection will be sent to a certified lab for analysis and identification of the exact nature of the problems found.
Thermal imaging can also be useful in detecting the presence of water that could lead to a mold problem. For example, if you smell a musty odor but have not had any recent water damage, thermal imaging can be used to determine if there is a hidden leak inside your walls causing the mold growth.
Mold home inspections must follow strict requirements to get an accurate reading of the air quality inside your Florida home. Don’t trust this process to just anybody. Always make sure you hire an inspector that is certified to perform mold inspections and beware of prices that are too low or too high.